If there is one place you visit on your trip to St. Tropez, make it Club 55. Pronounced using the French translation ‘cinquante-cinq’, St. Tropez’s oldest beach club is located on the Plage de Pampelonne in Ramatuelle. Every major celebrity makes a pit stop at Club 55 at some point during the summer months. Arrive in your finest designer beach duds and Panama hat and prepare to people watch. Club 55 is made up of a typical Provencal beach bungalow with white canopies surrounded by a thick forest of bamboo where you can lunch in the shade, and a stretch of beach dotted with mattresses and umbrellas that opens up to the blue of the Mediterranean. The most fashionable guests arrive by sea, to the famous wooden pier that jets out from the beach, in a small tender from their mega-yacht anchored offshore.
Lunch is always festive, boisterous and totally jammed, so don’t talk too loudly about your company’s new IPO to avoid involving your neighbor, who is practically sitting in your lap, in insider trading. Waiters whizz by with massive wooden planks of crudite in all varieties, as well as oysters, caviar and their signature colossal artichoke appetizer. The menu also features many types of salads, pasta, roast chicken, fish, meat and daily specials. Desserts are simple fresh berries with ice cream, a sinful chocolate tart or the famous tarte tropezienne. Bring your wallet!! One bottle of water starts at €10 and the prices go up from there.
We were halfway through a bottle of rose wine from the local Chateau de Pampelonne vineyard down the road, when P. Diddy arrived with an entourage for lunch and sat next to our table. Nice to know Diddy and I run in the same circles!
|P. Diddy arrives with entourage to lunch at Club 55|
|My fellow lunch mate|
|The famous artichoke starter|
|Veal milanese with a side of tagliatelle pasta|
|My favorite tarte tropezienne|
|Vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mini strawberries|
After lunch you either head back to your boat, as we did, or return to your mattress on the beach for more rose wine and celebrity spotting. There are always locals roaming the beach offering you fresh cherries and peaches or beignets filled with chocolate or cream. Imagine our surprise when all of a sudden the Australian actor Hugh Jackman was frolicking in the waves with his children right in front of us!
|View from your mattress: mega yachts and clear blue sea|
|A local French man selling plates of fresh cherries and peaches on the beach|
|Beignets (like donuts) filled with cream or chocolate, yum.|
A Hugh Jackman action shot!
Some tips for Club 55:
- Make sure you call well in advance to make your lunch, as well as your beach mattress, reservations. After you book for lunch with the restaurant host, ask them to transfer your call to the beach cabana so you can reserve spots on the beach.
- Your beach reservation is only valid until 12 noon, after which point they will give your spot away. Arrive early and you have a better chance of getting the coveted mattresses in the first row closest to the water’s edge.
- Be warned, two mattress (without towels, you must bring your own) and an umbrella on the beach will run you €50.
- The earlier you arrive, the better. The traffic on the road leading to Club 55 can be outrageous, and the parking lot across the street from Club 55 fills to capacity by 11am.
- Club 55 does offer a valet service, but the lot across the street only charges €4.50 for the day, so save yourself the money.